Sheila was waiting outside the office of the Minister, Pratap Dev Singh. There have been too many allegations in the media about the Minister. Some parts of the media claim they have evidence that suggest his involvement in one of the biggest political scams that happened recently.

This was not her first interaction with this minister. She always liked coming to his office. Unlike other politicians, Pratap Dev kept his office clean and focused more on getting the work done. Usually, you could see more members related to the clan of the minister than the office bearers in his office. However, in the case of Pratap Dev, he avoided clutter even when it comes to people around him. It was a complete bureaucratic setup. She also admired the aesthetics of the place and how time and schedule are respected by the people in his office.

After waiting for only ten minutes, she was sent inside to meet the minister and interview him.

“Hi Sheila, It’s nice to see you again,” said Pratap Dev.

She went directly to the topic at heart. She said, “Before conducting a formal interview, I want to ask you something straight. Do you really have something do with that scam? What about that evidence that people are talking about?”

Despite all the allegations and bickering against him, Pratap Dev maintained an eerie sense of calmness around him. He smiled and asked, “If they really had evidence against, do you think they would have waited this long to get me arrested? Do you know that I am one of those few ministers with a clean track record and successful stint at office ever since I enrolled for this party. I am one of those few people who has not changed the party ever since I got into politics. I have seen ebbs and tides by being part of this party.”

Sheila felt glad. She asked, “I don’t understand this. If you are not part of this scam, why are you being silent on this issue? Why don’t you release a press statement and deny all these allegations? Why don’t you do something about it?”

Pratap Dev smiled again. He said, “Alright, here is the deal. You are from the press. You know the media people these days. Anything I say can be twisted and tweaked to suit their requirements. If I have to speak up about anything, I have to be fully prepared about the consequences and plan my interactions carefully. There is a team here that is researching into these allegations. I’m waiting to hear their analyses. I’m not as much bothered about the consequences as the Chief Minister is. Polls are fast approaching. We need to tread carefully. But, wait for some news in the near future.”

Though she was convinced, she continued to ask him, “Please be honest. You already know that I’m your big fan. I have plans to get into politics after a few years. I have been keenly following your strategies and decisions and I have learnt a lot from the way in which you handle things. But, your restraint during this episode seems to be very unconvincing.”

He said, “It’s more than mere restraint. We are just being thoughtful. I understand that this scam is a big thing. Until the intelligence team comes up with its findings, I’m supposed to remain tight-lipped about anything.”

Sheila continued her questions, “What about the other two ministers from your party who got arrested recently? They claim they are innocent. But, various sectors of the media cry foul about their participation in this scam?”

Pratap Dev said, “You already know that investigation is under way. I have no clue about what is happening. I support them as long as they are innocent and have been careful in all their interactions. If it has just been a trap, trust me, the truth will come out soon.”

Sheila smiled and said, “You are so diplomatic. Even though you claim to give straight forward answers, it is very difficult to get any update from you.”

After thirty minutes of interviewing him, Sheila came out happily.

She called her boss, Ravichandran, and said, “You were right. He says he knows nothing about anything. He claims to have no knowledge about the scam. Your plan is working.”

One of the subordinates in Pratap Dev’s office overheard her conversation and informed Pratap Dev about it.

Pratap Dev immediately realized that there was something fishy in this episode. He immediately called for a meeting with the members of the intelligence team.

Addressing the members of the intelligence team, he said, “I have called you to ask for a new investigation. Though, it is related to the scam, I want you people to focus on some people who are not at all related to this scam. Yes. You heard it right. I want you to investigate, discretely though, some members of the press. Sheila works for this media group and her news articles are very influential. Can you run a quick investigation about her activities and those of her boss?”

After nearly six hours, Sameer from the intelligence team meets up with the minister.

Sameer says, “I have some update for you. I’m sorry I could not get the whole team to meet with you. That is the bone of contention in this case. As you rightly guessed, Sheila and her boss along with another media house are working on something. I’ll get back to those details shortly. The troubling part of this story is that some members of my team are also involved in this.”

Pratap Dev curiously asked him, “I don’t get it. What are they working on? And, how can members of the intelligence team be involved in this? Can you elaborate everything for me?”

Sameer explained, “There are two media houses. They have three news channels. It is these three news channels that started the campaign against the scam. Unlike any other scam, this scam highlighted the work done by these two media houses in finding out the scam. And, it is the media that unearthed the scam before the intelligence or cops did it. As it always happens in our country, nobody refuted their claims. Our intelligence team was immediately summoned to arrest two minister who were supposed to be a part of this scam. Like everyone else, the authorities also believed in the information propagated by the media. Today, when you called us for a meeting and told us about Sheila and her weird interview, some members of the team were not interested. They dismissed your idea completely. I took it as a personal project to learn more about this on the basis of your doubt. Only then, did I found out that this scam is a fake scam cooked up by the media with the help of three members from the intelligence team and two top officers of the police department.”

Pratap Dev was astonished at the revelation.

He asked, “Is it really possible for the media to create something so large and make a big sensation out of it? I know it is very immoral. But, how can they meddle with the facts and secrets that are meant to be known only by the government authorities? And, why are these media houses doing this? Don’t tell me they are doing it for the sole purpose of TRPs.”

Sameer responded, “Blame the corruption in the system. Instead of exposing the corrupted system, some sections of the media is now using it to its own advantage. And, there is someone behind these media houses. It is the leader of the other party. He is funding these activities. In fact, my investigation has revealed the fact that he has been planning to do this for a long time. He timed it perfectly around polls to ruin the image of your party. According to their plan, you are the next target. They wish to do something to tarnish your image and falsely prove your involvement in the scam. And, Sheila is going to play a major role in this with her boss. If we do not take action immediately, these media houses are going to use the laws according to their will and change the course of history in tune with their whims and fancies. If the leader of the other party comes to power, these two media houses will become way too powerful and change the dynamics of the fourth estate and its involvement in a democracy. Simply put, they want to use those two ministers and you as scapegoats to make their entry into the dominating circles of power and influence.”

Pratap Dev understood the whole situation. He immediately called the Chief Minister of the state and explained the situation to him. Without letting the media know, a task force team was immediately established to solve this problem.

Within a few days, both the media houses were exposed. However, it was difficult to link those activities with the leader of the other party. The two ministers were released after it was revealed that the whole scam was a hoax and false alarm.

People started campaigns against these media houses on social networks.